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An indicator for July polls?

An indicator for July polls?

The Editor,

I read with concern, but no surprise, your lead article "Buying your way into

democracy - NEC bribes alleged" (Jan 2-15, 1998).

In an appreciative move, the Ministry of Interior allowed open and frank discussions

when the electoral law was drafted, including on the composition of the proposed

National Election Commission (NEC) - and members of the civil society, particularly

NGOs, played an active role. As someone who actively participated in collating the

NGO input to the drafting of the national Constitution in 1993 and having consistently

worked on women's rights and democracy issues, I considered such discussions as great

progress to establishing liberal democracy in Cambodia. The hard work of several

committed individuals and agencies helped to achieve that progress.

It is unfortunate that the recent election to nominate the NGO representative Chea

Chamroeun to the NEC is being publicly questioned. If this election was achieved,

as observed, not through free and fair means, will the functioning of the NEC be

credible? How bona fide will his actions be? Further, what justifications can the

Ministry of Interior give to the public for its active and direct role in the recent

election? What measures were taken to verify that people who voted that day were

representatives of NGOs legally registered with the Ministry and/or the Council of

Ministers?

Will the civil society, including NGOs, allow Chea Chamroeun to fulfill the agenda

of those who provided him the means to get elected to the NEC? Or, is it an indicator

of things to come in the July 1998 elections?

- Mu Sochua, Phnom Penh.

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